Security experts recommend people take three steps to protect their digital identity: 1) freeze their credit, 2) set up online access to their bank and credit card accounts, and 3) use unique passwords for all of their online accounts. The present survey asked adults (age 18+) in Washington state about these behaviors in addition to other behaviors and views about their digital identity and online safety. The findings from this study indicate that many Washington adults are not taking these steps.
Key findings from the survey include:
- The majority of Washington adults performed poorly on an 8-question quiz of their digital identity knowledge. Six in 10 (62%) answered four or fewer questions correctly, thereby failing the quiz.
- About half of Washington adults (51%) report noticing fraudulent charges on their credit or debit card; yet very few (14%) have ordered a security freeze on their credit.
- Many Washington adults have not set up online access to their financial accounts.
- Only four in 10 (38%) Washington adults have online access to all of their bank accounts, with those age 18-49 (45%) being more likely than older adults (50-64: 30%; 65+: 25%) to have access to all of their bank accounts. About one in five (21%) Washington adults have not set up online access to any of their bank accounts.
- Half (50%) of Washington adults with credit card accounts have online access to all of their credit card accounts. Those age 18-49 (66%) are more likely than older adults (50-64: 37%; 65+: 28%) to have online access to all of their credit card accounts. More than one in four (27%) have not set up online access to any of their credit card accounts.
- Nearly half (45%) of Washington adults have used the same password for more than one online account. Younger adults are more likely to do this than older adults (18-49: 49%; 50-64: 46%; 65+: 33%).
- Just over half (52%) of Washington Facebook users 18+ have used their Facebook account to log in to other accounts. This percentage is significantly higher among adults age 18-49 (62%) than among those age 50-64 (40%) and 65+ (23%).
- Among Washington Facebook users age 18+, nearly three in four (72%) report having changed at least some of their privacy settings from the default settings. However, those age 65+ (33%) are less likely than those age 50-64 (68%) and 18-49 (82%) to have done this.
The study consisted of 1,003 telephone interviews among Washington state residents ages 18 and older (600 via landline telephone and 403 via cell phone), conducted March 13-26, 2018 by Alan Newman Research (ANR) for AARP. All data have been weighted by age, gender, and race/ethnicity according to 2013 American Community Survey 5-year estimates and statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. For more information contact Doug Shadel at DShadel@aarp.org.
Pak, Karla, and Doug Shadel. Up for Grabs: Taking Charge of Your Digital Identity: Survey of Washington Internet Users Age 18+. Washington, DC: AARP Research, May 2018. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00228.001